This book is a forgotten gem.
Grandma Cathy first gave me A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter to read as I was growing up. I read and loved it, but as time went by, I forgot about it. When my friend Heather J. chose this as a book for our homeschool book club, I re-read it with my children. And I wondered how I could have forgotten about it!
Elnora is a girl that I want my children to be friends with. She has grit, integrity, and compassion. She forgives and serves--even when it might cost her personally. This is a lovely, old fashioned story that deserves to be read again today.
Her story begins when she is born at the same time her father dies. Because Elnora's mother was giving birth, she was unable to save her husband--something she has never forgiven her daughter for. As Elnora grows up unloved by her mother, she becomes sensitive to others' suffering, develops independence, and gets an education in the swamps and forests of Indiana. This book chronicles her struggles, triumphs and goodness. It tells of a mother and daughter trying to figure out their relationship. It shows that those who persevere in love and integrity always come out right in the end.
In a way, Elnora reminds me of Jane Eyre--the refusal to wallow in life's unfairness, the hard work, the independence and spotless integrity. Both books also show how people can change when they are loved unconditionally. I want my children to have these examples always in their sights and to have them part of our family culture.
Side Note: If you are homeschooling, or like to learn together as a family, this book lends itself exceptionally well to a unit study, as Elnora is a naturalist. Not only would you be reading excellent material, but you could also study the moths, plants and swamps native to Indiana that are mentioned in the book.
Family Discussion Guide:
- Both Mrs. Comstock and the Sintons experienced the tragedy of losing loved ones. What was the difference in their reactions? Why?
-Why was it important to Elnora to go to school?
-How did the other students treat Elnora at first? Why? How would you have treated her?
-How is community important? For example, the Sintons, Elnora's teacher and her friends. How can you help others in your community?
-What would Elnora's life been like if she were lazy?
-Why did Elnora decide to forgive her mother time after time? How do we choose to forgive?
-Why did Elnora work so hard to get Edith the violets for her birthday?
-Why did Elnora not like Phillip when he asked for a kiss when he left to help his father?
-Did during their engagement, did Edith Carr's actions showed that she really loved Phillip? How does love act?
-How can our pride end up hurting us? Give examples from both Mrs. Comstock and Edith.
-Why did Elnora go into hiding? Why was that an unselfish thing to do?
-Why was it important for Edith to give the Yellow Emporer to Elnora?
-What does this book teach about mastering ourselves as it unfolds the lives of Elnora, her mother and Edith? Why is this important and how does it affect our life and the lives of those around us?
Community Question: What other old-fashioned books do you love?
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